Emmy Awards Telecast Starts New Diet
The usually underwhelming Emmy Awards telecast Q & A ran a strong anchor leg for CBS at the TCA press tour on Monday. In addition to a typically (and winningly) glib Neil Patrick Harris via satellite, Executive Producer Don Mischer and ATAS President John Schaffner discussed in detail their plan to make a few nips and tucks to the somewhat bloated awards by "time-shifting" eight of the acceptance speeches. Rereading through the transcript today, the phrase "time-shifting" was uttered so many times that the more tired critics in the audience (or those who hadn't hit the sundae bar) must have thought CBS was updating Quantum Leap for the new generation (Scott Bakula is available). The nominees in the shortened categories definitely have a gripe, but is losing 10 minutes and 25 seconds from the broadcast and showing clips from popular but unnominated programs going to cause an uptick in viewership? Doubtful. But not for the reasons the media is focusing on.
Movieline was at the presser, and it was this snippet that still stuck out to us a day later:
JOHN SHAFFNER: And I interject that, once again, we're going to be up against a very -- what looks to be a very popular football show. So I'm inviting all of you to ask your viewers to time-shift the football and watch the Emmys.
DON MISCHER: We're up against the Dallas Cowboys/New York Giants game, the first game from Texas Stadium. That's going to be hard.
The elephant in the room was supposed to be the petition from various writers and showrunners, but that pachyderm is rocking a Cowboys jersey and drinking a Coors from a personalized can cooler. Shaffner and Mischer discussed over and over that they want to keep the Emmys relevant and felt an obligation to all of television to do so ("[W]e are going to try and do the best we can, and I think it's for the whole industry..."), but this might not be the best year for that.
Football - and especially Cowboys football - owns Sundays. Last year, six different Cowboys games, two of those against the Giants - were in the top fifteen most watched shows of any kind during the fall. You can cut out the fatty bits of acceptance speeches (standing up, walking to the podium, unnecessary pauses) and drop in some clips of NCIS or other highly-watched fare, but the story the next day has already been written. "Cowboys, new stadium rule the ratings; Emmy changes change little." Effort is appreciated, especially in the direction of making awards shows leaner, but unfortunately this is not a level playing field.